Eva Mendelbaum is simply fabulous. She is a dashing European jet-setter
who wears extravagant outfits. She is a fashion icon. But perhaps the
most intriguing thing about Mendelbaum is that she is a figment of the
imagination of an even more alluring couple, Michael Sperer and Noam
Zucker. Israelis, not Europeans, these two are the masterminds behind
the budding label Eva Mendelbaum.
Over a pitcher of ice water and
a bowl of ginger snaps, Zucker and Sperer talk about the inception of
their brand, the figurehead in place and their creative process. Seated
beneath an eye-catching painting by his wife, Sperer is happy to discuss
the fictitious resumé he has created for the so-called Eva Mendelbaum.
Everything about Zucker and Sperer’s business is refreshing.
showroom and store is located in an unusual corner of Tel Aviv,
situated just south of the Azrieli Center in a breezy little cul-de-sac.
Shefa Tal Street is one the mysterious paths in Tel Aviv that only seem
to exist once the need arises to go there. It is in this unusual
environment that Eva Mendelbaum set up shop and began an amiable
takeover of Israeli fashion.
The white walls of the space are
adorned with original artwork by the couple. A low shelf beneath the
large display window holds neatly folded children’s clothing – memories
of the first line designed for the Eva Mendelbaum label.
started by making organic kids’ clothing. But we quickly realized that
we couldn’t get to where we wanted to go with organic fabrics. It was
very limiting for us,” says Sperer.
Though the venture was
finally deemed unsustainable, the mini-Mendelbaum line is a small
example of the startling creativity the two are capable of.
“With kids’ clothes, you can really go wild,” smiles Zucker.
release of the organic children’s wear collection took place in 2009,
officially marking Zucker and Sperer’s dramatic leap into the fashion
Both Zucker and Sperer hail from the world of visual arts.
graduating from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, the two
spent several months honing their craft before Zucker enrolled at
Shenkar College of Engineering and Design. It was during her year at
Shenkar that Zucker shifted her medium from canvas to cloth.
Zucker and Sperer work side by side on their label, keeping each other
in balance at every turn. The mutual respect in the Mendelbaum office is
“I see potential in everything,” beams Zucker. “And
sometimes he doesn’t like it. Michael keeps me realistic. There are a
bunch of ideas that I try over and again that just don’t work, so we
are in a constant process of elimination.”
“Noam is the heart of the
company,” interjects Sperer. “She has the vision. When we get to formal
things like composition and color choices, I get involved.”
Mendelbaum’s design perspective clearly reflects a visual arts sensibility. “I
don’t begin from a thought about clothes,” she says. “I’ll start by getting very
interested in a specific person or idea, and it becomes the trigger for the next
Florence Welch of the music group Florence and the Machine
provided the spark for the summer collection, called English
“This collection is about British culture throughout the ages.
We took things that were classically European and brought something light to
them, hence the name English Breakfast. It is British elements suited to the
Israeli climate,” Sperer explains.
The line is airy and delicate, with
references to Delft china and Hawaiian shirts. Last year’s winter collection,
entitled Radio Enterprise, focused on metallic tones and clean lines. Full of
flowers and bright colors, English Breakfast has brought a new, whimsical tone
to the label.
At present, Zucker is collecting inspirational materials
for the winter line, which will be Eva Mendelbaum’s fourth collection. “Each
collection takes about half a year from start to finish. Once we release the
line, we continue adding to it throughout the season,” says Sperer.
told, an average collection will include 20 garments.
Unlike most fashion
designers, Zucker does not wear her own pieces. “I think that the first meeting
with a garment is a very powerful moment. There is a lot of excitement
that goes into that encounter. And I think for that excitement to be
there, the garment has to be complete. When you meet a piece along the way, it
messes up that feeling, at least for me,” she says.
English Breakfast is
now on sale at the Eva Mendelbaum, store as well as a number of boutiques such
as Razili, Boutique 5 in Tel Aviv and Sophia in Jerusalem. Items range from NIS
250 to NIS 700.
The Eva Mendelbaum store is located at 8 Shefa Tal Street in
Tel Aviv. For more information, visit www.evamendelbaum.com.